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Due to poor storage - grains rot away, starving millions in India

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
August 27th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

For the want of a horse, the kingdom was lost, goes the old saying. This is certainly true in India, where enough grain that could feed 70 million people deteriorates and rots away due to poor storage. It's a little known story behind world starvation -- highlighting the infrastructural gaps faced in a country where millions live in hunger.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to a newspaper report in the Times of India, at least 17,546 tons of food grains in warehouses owned by the state-run Food Corporation of India (FCI) were damaged between 2009 and 2012.

The corporation is responsible for gathering grains from farmers for distribution to the poor under highly subsidized rates, and for maintaining buffer stocks for national food security.

"As per World Health Organization guidelines, a minimum of 250 grams (of) food grains is required per person per day to survive. The cumulative loss could have fed at least 70 million people," Dev Ashish Bhattacharya, an activist says. Bhattacharya had gained the information under India's Right to Information Act.

India is home to a quarter of the world's hungry poor, according to United Nations figures. This, in spite of being one of the world's biggest food producers after years of significant economic growth.

One of the biggest challenges in feeding its people is a lack of, as well as inadequate storage facilities. The grain is frequently stored outside warehouses with not enough sacks and tarpaulin sheets, exposing it to rain, rodents and other elements.

Indian Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar told parliament that inadequate storage infrastructure resulted in the wholesale waste of fruits, grains and vegetables worth almost $7 billion every year.

A new Food Security Bill through parliament this week. The $22 billion welfare scheme will sell subsidized wheat and rice to 67 percent of its 1.2 billion people.

Critics say it is not only too costly for India, but it will also fail to make a difference unless adequate infrastructure for storage and distribution are made available.

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